Tuesday, September 21, 2010

UK - Hoax 'sex offender' letters sent

Original Article

09/21/2010

Police have asked anyone who has received one of the letters, which falsely name a man as a sex offender, to contact them

"Malicious" letters which falsely name a man as a sex offender and purport to come from police have been received at several addresses in Essex.

Three letters have been received by organisations and businesses in Leigh-on-Sea and Rayleigh, Essex Police said.

Chief Inspector Glen Westley, the district commander for Rochford, said: "We are aware that a number of malicious letters have been sent out claiming to be from Essex Police. The letters name a man and state that he is a sex offender."

"I appeal to anyone who has received one of these letters to disregard the claims made."

"The claims are untrue and entirely malicious."

"I would ask anybody who receives a letter to contact us so that we can come and collect the letters and use them as evidence."

Anyone who received one of the letters is asked to contact their local police station on 0300 333 4444.


MI - Judge hears arguments on whether homeless sex offenders should be allowed to stay in shelters near schools

Original Article

This is just absurd. They are making it complicated when it doesn't need to be, as usual. When the offender is staying in the shelter, it's nighttime, when kids are not in school, so what is the darn problem?

09/21/2010

By John Agar

GRAND RAPIDS -- A federal judge on Monday told attorneys to resolve issues over a state law that has prevented homeless sex offenders from staying at city shelters -- all within school-safety zones.

Advocates for the homeless filed a lawsuit against state and county officials, saying homeless sex offenders have nowhere to turn.

"In the meantime, your honor, we are moving into winter on the horns of a dilemma," attorney Norman Pylman, representing Mel Trotter Ministries, told U.S. District Judge Gordon Quist. The judge said he would issue a written opinion in two weeks if both sides cannot reach an agreement.

Homeless advocates said a law that prevents sex offenders from residing within 1,000 feet of a school puts the offenders at risk on the street -- and at risk of prosecution if they stay at a shelter.

Attorney Miriam Aukerman argued that homeless people, who only spend the night at shelters, are not residents. A state appellate panel, in another case, said it was not possible for homeless sex offenders to register addresses because they do not have a residence.

"I just think that the defense has an uphill battle trying to get around the word, 'residence,'" Quist told attorneys.

This lawsuit came after the January 2009 freezing death in Grand Rapids of Thomas Pauli, 51, who reportedly was turned away from a shelter because of a 1991 conviction involving a pre-teen girl.

Assistant Attorney General Margaret Nelson said shelters were under the mistaken belief they faced penalties if they allowed entry to sex offenders.

"They have no obligation under the statute to determine if the person is a sex offender or not."

She acknowledged the Court of Appeals said homeless don't have to register, but said it should be up to local police departments and prosecutors on determining if sex offenders violate the law. If a sex offender lists an address in a school-safety zone, authorities can't ignore it.

Nelson said not all of the plaintiffs are still homeless, or even living in Grand Rapids.

She said a challenge should come in a criminal case, with an actual defendant challenging the law.

Quist said: "I don't think that a person staying overnight has to worry about prosecution."

"I don't either," Nelson said.

But when he asked if "there would be no prosecution," she replied: "I can't assure you of that, your honor."

Enforcement of the law is a challenge, Grand Rapids Police Chief Kevin Belk said in an affidavit.

"Among other things, it is unclear whether registered individuals can stay in Grand Rapids' shelters, which are all located within 1,000 feet of a school," he wrote.

Linda Howell, representing Kent County Prosecutor William Forsyth, said Forsyth isn't willing to ignore the law -- nor does he want to audit shelter books to determine if a sex offender is staying at a shelter temporarily or living there.

Pylman, attorney for Mel Trotter, and William Farr, representing Degage Ministries, said their clients are committed to helping the homeless. They also work closely with police. Pylman said the law "puts us at odds with the very people we're trying to service."

Aukerman said her five clients, identified in court records by pseudonyms, have not been convicted of serious sex offenses. Three of them were convicted of high-court misdemeanors, she said. One of them was 19 when he had sex with his 15-year-old girlfriend, who told him she was 17.